Most of Blair Tuke's childhood memories in Northland involve the water - so it's only natural the passion and care he had when he was young has led to the Olympic sailor co-founding a charity focused on ocean health.

Tuke and teammate Peter Burling have set up Live Ocean, a registered New Zealand charity with a focus on ocean conservation.

Tuke said his passion for the ocean has existed since he was a child.

"I'm very lucky I had a childhood growing up in Kerikeri that was right by the ocean and most days were spent in and around the water.


"Most of my childhood memories involved the ocean so that passion and care I had from the start. But it was only more recently, in the last couple of years, that I sort of thought that how we're treating the ocean now, and our attitude towards it aren't quite right."

Olympic and Team NZ sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke establish ocean conservation charity
America's Cup 2021: Blair Tuke, Peter Burling on new Ocean Live charity - and sailing the new Team NZ yacht

Tuke said after returning home from The Ocean Race mid 2018, he and Burling knew they wanted to do something positive around ocean conservation and started to learn and understand how they would have the most impact. That's when they decided to form Live Ocean.

The charity's vision is for New Zealand to be a world leading champion in ocean health. It aims to support and invest in promising marine science, innovation, technology and marine conservation projects. It will also inspire and educate New Zealanders on ways to make positive change for the ocean.

"We have some great people around us who helped us to channel our vision and our passion into this. Before we started a charity we wanted to make sure we weren't just starting the charity for the sake of it."

Tuke said they approached Ngāti Kuri because of the Northland iwi's work around Rangitāhua (Kermadec Islands).

Harry Burkhardt, chairman of the Ngāti Kuri Trust Board, said Tuke and Burling's goals aligned with Ngāti Kuri's vision, principles and values.

"There's many people around the world who share similar values and principles so it's about us bolting on to their stories and them using our stories - because they're highly similar. So Peter and Blair had come out of that corner - it's very easy to have a conversation with people like that."


He said high-trust collaborative models - where you can rely on other partners to look after your interests and vice versa - were effective, and that is what Ngāti Kuri had with Tuke and Burling.

"You can't fabricate this. People have got to be coming into these spaces with genuine passion," he said.

Tuke and Burling are currently preparing for the 49er World Championships being held in Auckland next week.

"It's pretty epic to have such a high profile regatta in New Zealand," he said.

"The world champs is a big event for us ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year so it's a pretty exciting time for us."

Tuke and Burling became the first sailors to win four consecutive 49er World Championships - 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

"Since then we've been busy with America's Cup and The Ocean Race so we haven't done the last two world champs, but we're looking forward to getting back into it."